Riding the fashion wave to New York

20:00, Jul 08 2012

On Isaac Hindin-Miller's second day in New York, the New Zealand expat and fashion blogger received his first story assignment from the New York Times.

Reflecting on seeing his work in print in the famous Grey Lady, Hindin-Miller explained, "It was incredible. There's just no better feeling."

We chatted as Hindin-Miller rode an above-ground train from Williamsburg, where he has lived since moving to the US in August last year, into Manhattan. It was a Friday, and our originally scheduled midweek chat had fallen through when I had moronically forgotten that New York and San Francisco were in different time zones. 

You might well be familiar with Hindin-Miller's work. In his own words, he'd built up a "mini-cottage industry" in New Zealand before he left (for good, he said). He was on TV once a week and on George FM, was a hard-working freelance journalist and had built his own blog, Isaac Likes, into a force to be reckoned with. (It reached a tipping point quite publicly in 2008 when a scoop of Hindin-Miller's on his blog resulted in him losing his job as Market Editor at Urbis.) He'd also recently become Creative Director at Little Brother.

Hindin-Miller came to America to work as a fashion writer in a higher stratosphere than is available to him in New Zealand. It sounded as though it had worked out. In less than a year in America he'd contributed regularly to the New York Times Magazine, Details and GQ.

"There's the full spectrum of fashion journalism here," Hindin-Miller said. "In New Zealand, it is very PR driven. It is a small town in Auckland. Everyone knows each other. I've written something negative about someone and then I've run into them on Ponsonby Road."


In America, Hindin-Miller said, you have journalists in the likes of Vogue, the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune covering the world of fashion with as much seriousness as a reporter on a campaign trail.

Hindin-Miller attributed his success to date to persistence and initiative. He views his blog Isaac Likes - where visitors get his bubbly insights on fashion, New York and life in general - as his resume and the "best example" of what he can do. Where many dream of setting up their own social media brand, Hindin-Miller said that he had succeeded by following through every day with original content and writing, past the point where the novelty of the idea had worn off. He'd travelled off his own bat to London, Milan and Paris to cover the fashion world, networking always and breaking stories along the way. He said that he wouldn't think twice emailing an editor every week for 18 months if he has to. "If only because then if you run into them somewhere, they kind of have to talk to you."

Americans are more open to being contacted, Hindin-Miller figured. "New Zealanders are a lot more standoffish. You really have to prove yourself before they take a chance on you."

Plus, a little pestering when you're in the fashion world is a must. "If you're not on the list, you don't matter," Hindin-Miller said. In the past he has begged, snuck in, or barraged PR agents with emails to get access to an event he wanted to cover.

Trading in Auckland for New York has given Hindin-Miller a more surreal ground on which to report from. He had met his personal hero Kanye West, who once deferred his request for a photo as he was eating a cookie. Hindin-Miller returned later as asked and explained to West just what a huge fan of his he was, and found himself referred to in the New York Times as a "crazed Kanye West fan from New Zealand". He'd dined with Lance Bass, met Joel Schumacher, and had a run in with Ed Westwick, the man behind Gossip Girl's inimitable Chuck Bass.

Hindin-Miller's global perspective and recent transplant into American life and professional success raise the following question: how does the high fashion of New York play out against that of little ol' New Zealand?

"Trends move way faster in New York. Fashion stores will bring jumpsuits out for two weeks, and then they will be the big new-thing. But then miniskirts will be in right after that. In New Zealand things don't move as quickly," Hindin-Miller said.

The slower speed of fashion trends in New Zealand, Hindin-Miller said, is partly because clothes are more expensive in New Zealand. It is further to bring them in, and our shops are inevitably buying smaller quantities. A pair of jeans, or Chuck Taylors, is exponentially more expensive.

Hindin-Miller's area of expertise is menswear. "I think that guys dress better in New York. They wear a lot more suits. In New Zealand people either don't seem to care or don't want to spend the money."

But Hindin-Miller is quick to credit our style. "New Zealanders dress pretty well. We shouldn't be ashamed. It's just different and its own certain way.

"New York is a special place. It is tough to compare to. It's full of the coolest and the most stylish. The good thing about it is it inspires you to lift your game."

Which is a good place to end on for today.

I'm no fashionista. I'm a jeans and T-shirt creature.

But on your travels, have you encountered a global fashion sense? How does New Zealand compare?

Are you a connoisseur of fashion journalism? Do you agree with Hindin-Miller's comparisons between New Zealand and the USA? 

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